“This climate change crisis is a game-changer in U.S.-China relations…an opportunity that cannot be missed”
- Nancy Pelosi, U.S. House Speaker, May 26, 2009 in Beijing.
The nomination of Jon Huntsman, currently the governor of the state of Utah, as the U.S. ambassador to China brings back into focus the role of clean energy cooperation in the furthering of U.S.-China relations. The choice of Gov. Huntsman has been lauded for various reasons-his fluency in Chinese, his track record as an Asian diplomat, the bipartisanship on the part of President Obama in nominating a Republican for the position (although some say he did so to take Gov. Huntsman, a likely Republican contender for the 2012 elections, out of contention)-but receiving less attention is the fact that Gov. Huntsman is a vocal advocate of the clean energy economy and the greenest governor that Utah as ever had (see youtube video interview).
The siren calls for US-China collaboration on clean energy and climate change action have been sounding nonstop ever since a new sheriff took over in Washington, D.C. Such exhortations are well grounded in the similarities of the two countries’ energy profiles. China and the U.S. are the two largest emitters of greenhouse gases (GHG) in absolute terms on annual basis, both are heavily reliant coal for power and imported petroleum for transportation fuel and other non-transportation uses and both have had (and continue) to build continental-wide energy infrastructure to support a large population. Various groups, such as Brookings Institution, Asia Society and Pew Center, Natural Rersources Defense Council, and Carnegie Endowment for International Peace have recently published reports providing policy recommendations for clean energy cooperation to form the basis of a momentous new chapter in U.S.-China diplomacy.
But Elizabeth Economy and Adam Segal warn in a recent piece titled “The G2 Mirage” in Foreign Affairs (subscription required) that we are only setting ourselves up for failure we we think that the U.S. and China are the only players in the game: Read the full story
The use of “carbon cap equivalents” provides a more accurate accounting of what countries are doing to combat climate change, and could be just the tool that helps countries forge a new climate agreement this December in Copenhagen.
In this momentous 100th post on The Green Leap Forward, I would like to share with readers an article that my new colleagues and I penned, entitled Counting the Real Progress on Climate Action, released just this morning (Thursday May 27, Washington, D.C. time). It was picked up hours later by the New York Times in a story highlighting U.S. House speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Beijing. Unfortunately, the New York Times gets it wrong and corrupts the meaning of our article when it says:
A bill being considered by the House [of Representatives in the U.S. Congress] would compel the United States to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to at least 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, and to 83 percent below by 2050. But that plan is well below the opening demand by Chinese leaders, who want developed nations to reduce 2020 emissions by 40 percent from 1995 levels [see this article on China's demands], and it falls short of commitments by the European Union as well.
American officials have already rejected the Chinese proposal as unattainable. The Center for American Progress, a Democratic-leaning research organization, said in a report published Wednesday that the House legislation was unlikely to win enough Chinese support for the two nations to present a united front at the Copenhagen talks in December.
In short, the Michael Wines, the NYT reporter (who does not specialize in environmental reporting, I might underscore) makes it sound as if we are saying that an impasse in Copenhagen is inevitable because the expectations of both sides are too far off. If one actually reads our article, it is clear that our central message is, in fact, the opposite: Read the full story
…and we’re back! Apologies of the prolonged dormancy, but yours truly has been busy lately transitioning to his new day job. But no time to waste! Let’s pick things up really quickly with some solar updates.
First, my solar policy paper, Getting out of the Shade: Solar Energy as National Security Energy, which we summarized before in a previous post, has now been published in three parts on China Dialogue. While the content remains the same, what’s new is that an Chinese version is now available.
There is an extra bit of text that is new in this edition that is worth noting:
[Encouragingly, since the first publication of this article, China has begun its journey out of the shade: China's Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development has launched a solar roofs programme to subsidise qualifying PV systems at 20 yuan (US$3) per watt, while some provinces, particularly Jiangsu, are poised to offer significant financial incentives to increase local capacity in PV manufacturing and deployment.]
And what a surge in domestic solar projects there has been in response! Many of the new projects were tracked on a previous post Much Ado About Solar, and so we have a continuation of more solar activity announced since that post: Read the full story
A review of a study on low carbon development pathways for China by the Tyndall Centre. One of its co-authors, Dr. Wang Tao, speaks at the Beijing Energy & Environment Roundtable (BEER) tomorrow (May 5, Tuesday). Click here for more details.
A report by the Sussex Energy Group and Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research entitled China’s Energy Transition: Pathways for Low Carbon Development set out four different scenarios for low-carbon development in China in an attempt to demonstrate how China’s economic development can be decoupled from carbon emissions growth–allowing its economy to expand by some 8 to 13 times while presumably stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere. The four scenarios are summarized in the table below:
Based on their scenario analysis, the authors draw the following key observations: Read the full story